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Education The Faculty Graduate Schools Graduate School Theology and Religious Studies PhD Programme PhD ceremonies Graduations 2004

27-05'04 | M.P.A. de Baar

Seventeenth-century mystic led learned men to the ‘End of Days’

The Flemish mystic Antoinette Bourignon (1616-1680) is one of the most fascinating women of the seventeenth century because she radically broke with the established norms and values on two fronts. Disregarding all church bodies she functioned as a spiritual leader for a group of men who could be considered gifted in many ways, and she recruited her followers across the boundaries of churches. Bourignon did all this out of the conviction that God had chosen her to restore true Christianity on earth. She announced that the end of the world was near and the Last Judgement would soon be passed. Only true Christians would be saved – and God had charged her with the task of gathering these true Christians together. Bourignon communicated her message via numerous manuscripts that she herself printed. Many readers sought personal contact with her, including merchants, craftsmen, doctors, painters, rentiers, clerics and scholars, so that Bourignon became the central figure in a spiritual network that extended far beyond the borders of the Dutch Republic. Mirjam de Baar conducted her PhD research on the life and work of Bourignon. What was it that made this seventeenth-century mystic so attractive? How did she manage, without any formal theological education and outside all ecclesiastical frameworks, to develop into a spiritual leader for a group of mainly male followers? This PhD thesis sheds light on Bourignon’s life, her prophetic self-awareness, the group of followers that gathered around her and the way in which she shaped her religious leadership. /GG

Mirjam de Baar (Rotterdam, 1960) studied history at Utrecht University. She conducted her PhD research at the department of History of Christianity (formerly the department of Ecclesiastical History and Liturgical Studies) of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen. She also works as a University Lecturer here.

Date and time

Thursday 27 May 2004, 4.15 p.m.

PhD student

M.P.A. de Baar, tel. (050)363 45 90, fax (050)363 62 00, e-mail: (work)

PhD thesis

‘Ik moet spreken’. Het spiritueel leiderschap van Antoinette Bourignon (1616-1680) [‘I must speak’. The spiritual leadership of Antoinette Bourignon (1616-1680)]

(Commercial edition: Walburg Pers, Zutphen, ISBN 90.5730.274.8. Sales price: EUR 49.95 (hardcover, 832 pp. incl. CD-ROM))


Prof. W.Th.M. Frijhoff and Prof. J.N. Bremmer

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